6 Paris Museums Kids Will Love (When They’re Tired of Art)
If the thought of yet another still life has your child on the verge of a meltdown, take a break from the art and explore some of the other amazing museums Paris has to offer.
Sure, the city is practically synonymous with fine art – from antiquities to modern masters. But the city boasts over 200 different museums. So whether your kiddo dreams of being an archeologist, can rattle off every species of spider, or if transportation is their thing, you can find a museum the entire family can enjoy.
30, avenue Corentin Cariou, 19th arrondissement; Metro: Porte de la Villette.
10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday; 10am-7pm on Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
Are your kids bursting at the seams with questions on flight, music, or the birth of the universe? Countless questions that you never seem to have the perfect answer for? The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie just might be the cure.
As the largest science museum in Europe, it boasts loads of interactive exhibits for your little ones to explore. Kids can fly a Helios globe, speed off in a driving simulator, participate in live chemical experiments, and explore a real submarine.
Best of all, the museum is located in the heart of the Parc de la Villette. So once they’ve had their fill, your kiddos can run around for hours or picnic on the grass. There is always something going on in the park with concerts year round and plenty of performers on hand.
If you’re looking to get out of the heat (or the rain) as the case may be, head over to La Géode, the IMAX theater in the gigantic reflective silver dome. Or if you’ve fallen on one of those ideal Parisian days, consider a boat tour along the Canal Saint Martin before tucking into your steak frites.
Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 8th arrondissement, Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau, Franklin-D.-Roosevelt
9:30am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday. 10am-7pm on Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
If your little Einstein is hungry for more science, head over to the Palais de la Découverte on the Champs-Elyséses. Located in the Grand Palais, a historic landmark built for the Universal Exposition of 1900, the architecture is a sight to see in itself.
Visit the Pi room where the walls are inscribed with 707 digits of the number in large wooden characters. Look out for the error in the 528th digit if you’re a true math whiz.
The museum hosts over 50 live scientific experiments daily put on by real researchers in real labs. And they cover the entire range of sciences from astronomy to chemistry, physics, biology, earth sciences, mathematics, and more.
There is a lot to see, and a lot to play with. Children are encouraged to get up close and personal with researchers and to interact with exhibits.
There are rooms dedicated to electric motion, permanent exhibitions on light, hydrogen and energy, a planetarium, workshops on genetics, and even an acoustics room. Kids will have a lot of fun viewing the huge engines that create electromagnetic fields or witness the Doppler Effect in action. And it’s all explained at their age level.
Be warned, most of the museum is in French so be prepared to put those foreign language classes to good use. Don’t speak it? Stick with the more visual experiments and exhibits. You can still find plenty to discover.
221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th arrondissement, Metro: Porte de Pantin
12pm-6pm Tuesday to Friday; 10am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays . Closed on Mondays.
Have a future virtuoso in the family? The Musée de la Musique is a must see for any music lover.
The museum’s stunning collection ranges from the 17th century to the present so there are plenty of instruments your kids have never seen. And some of the pieces, like Chopin’s piano and Brassens’ guitar, are truly legendary.
Not only can kiddos listen to some of these wonders on the audio guide, there are regular concerts using these antiquated national treasures. On top of that, they’re simply beautiful to see.
With over 7000 musical objects in the collection, you can view musical inventions from every culture in the world. There are tons and tons of instruments including lutes, classical guitars, harpsichords and some of them quite bizarre.
Temporary exhibits bring an added dimension with themes such as Paul Klee Polyphonies, Song of the River: the Harps of Central Africa, Europunk, and modern monographs such as Serge Gainsbourg, Miles Davis, and John Lennon.
Afterwards, if you’re still jonesing for more, visit Rue de la Douai. If you’re into guitars or drums, you’ll love looking through these shops.
Musée du Louvre, 1st arrondissement, Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre
Open every day 9 am to 6 pm (except Tuesdays)
For history buffs or budding archeologists, checking out the Louvre’s Egyptian Antiquities is an absolute must! Something about ancient Egypt is just so mysteriously exotic that kids love it.
So rather than drag the little ones through endless labyrinths chock full of paintings—stunning though they may be—save your sanity. Forgo the tiny glimpse you’ll get of the Mona Lisa. Instead, focus your time on the 20 rooms dedicated to these wondrous and magical treasures.
From the moment, your children are greeted by the Great Sphinx of Tanis, they will be in awe—transported to the time of pharaohs or of the explorers that unearthed them. And can you blame them? Mummies, scrolls and tablets, beautifully etched hieroglyphics, sculpted cats, thrones, sarcophagi, ancient games and weapons. . . what kid wouldn’t be spellbound?
The 50,000+ pieces in this collection will, no doubt, speak volumes to your kids’ adventurous side. And if those little feet can handle it, make a quick visit to the Greeks. . . the Venus de Milo and the Nike of Samothrace are divine.
Don’t forget a stop at the museum’s store. An ankh or a clay scarab beetle just might be in order. Or perhaps a mini sarcophagus to keep the memories alive? Though your kids might be begging for their own archeologist kit before the day is done.
60 rue Réaumur, 3rd arrondissement, Metro: Arts et Métiers
10am-6pm Tuesdays, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. 10am-9:30pm on Thursdays.
If you’re looking for what would be heaven on Earth for any engineer, Paris has the answer. Techno whiz kids will swoon over this little gem tucked away in the Marais. Spacious and stylish, the Musée des Arts et Métiers presents a fascinating overview of technology and industrial design for the past 400 years.
Curious minds will be wowed by a whole host of timeless machines. From clocks and chronometers, to cars, airplanes, and motor bicycles, the museum delivers it all.
Highlights include Foucault’s pendulum, Auguste Bartholdi’s original model of the Statue of Liberty, some of the first planes, and Blaise Pascal’s mechanical calculator. But it’s human ingenuity that’s the really on display.
Little builders will learn about engineering bridges and skyscrapers, the metro, the bicycle, trains, and even the Ariane rocket. There are displays on radios, TV’s, engines, and all sorts of contraptions. Plan for a half-day visit to really get your fill!
36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 5th arrondissement, Metro: Gare d’Austerlitz, Censier Daubenton, Jussieu
Paris’s answer to natural history is a real treat. Not only are the displays impressive but the architecture is sublime. The museum has a wonderful old-timey feel; like a real cabinet of curiosities.
On display are tons of amazing creatures—from the central procession of African animals to tigers attacking Indian elephants, ferocious sharks, and monkeys hanging off the rafters. Kiddos will feel like honest to goodness explorers from a bygone time.
Despite all the taxidermy—or perhaps because of it—the museum feels alive and vibrant. There are also exhibits on man’s impact on the animal kingdom and plenty to learn about endangered or extinct animals. There is nothing sterile about this place. And your animal-lover or mini biologist will thank you.
If you’re looking for more biological goodies, the separate Galerie d'Anatomie Comparée et de Paléontologie offers an impressive collection of over a million skeletons and rare fossils for dino fans. And if you’ve haven’t gotten your fill of animalia, the Paris Menagerie right around the corner, still within the Jardin des Plantes will have you interacting with live animals in the zoo.
Looking to visit a number of museums during your stay? Consider the Paris Museum Pass. You’ll get access to over 60 museums and historical sites with unlimited visits during a date range of your choosing. But best of all, you’ll never have to line up. That’s right, you get to skip the queue! And everyone knows what a volatile combination kids + waits make!
What’s your family’s favorite museum in Paris? Share with us!
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